Coral reefs relocated en masse for Vinh Tan power project

Up to 10,000 clusters or blocks of corals have been relocated to the Hon Cau Marine Protected Area to facilitate the dredging of passages for building the Vinh Tan thermoelectric center project in Tuy Phong District in Binh Thuan Province, said Vo Si Tuan, vice chair of the Institute of Oceanography under Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.


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Construction workers are seen at a thermoelectric plant under construction in the Vinh Tan power center in Binh Thuan Province. 

Up to 10,000 clusters or blocks of corals have been relocated to the Hon Cau Marine Protected Area to facilitate the dredging of passages for building the Vinh Tan thermoelectric center project 

In a seminar on the thermoelectricity impact on the marine environment held in HCMC last week, Tuan said it took about six months to completely move 10,000 coral mounds to Hon Cau, five kilometers from Vinh Tan. He said the corals have adapted well to the new habitat.

“The corals are growing well in the new environment,” he explained.

However, some marine experts suspect the claim, saying the relocation of corals will lead to serious impact on the marine environment, reduce the reproduction of marine creatures in the area and affect fishing activity.

Speaking to the Daily, Toan Cong Lap, head of the conservation team of Hon Cau Marine Protected Area, said the removal of corals from Vinh Tan to Hon Cau would damage the environment for marine creatures and migrating fish like anchovy and herring. That will cause fish output to drop.

Some experts worry that the development of coal-fired thermo-power projects in Binh Thuan is causing a big dent to the marine ecosystem, especially in Hon Cau Marine Protected Area, due to sewage and dredging activities. 

Not only marine creatures are losing their natural habitat, coral reefs are being depleted, but salt production, fishery, aquaculture and tourism will also be affected as well.

Among 16 marine protected areas in Vietnam, Hon Cau boasts a rich diversity of marine life with more than 234 species of corals, 324 species of fish, 119 species of mollusks, 32 giant echinoderm species and 46 species of crustaceans, among others.

Five coal-fired thermoelectric plants in the Vinh Tan power center in coastal Binh Thuan Province with a combined capacity of 6,225MW are under construction and scheduled for completion in 2020. 

Among those plants, Vinh Tan 1 has been operational since 2014 and Vinh Tan 4 will be commissioned this year.

Tuan noted that an issue of grave concern is that each power station in the Vinh Tan center has its own environmental impact assessment report, while there should be an overall environmental impact assessment on the entire center.

Speaking to the Daily, Nguyen Chu Hoi, chairman of the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, said that the total amount of waste throughout the life cycle of the thermo-power project would have a far-reaching, adverse impact on the environment, and this is a big problem that must be taken into consideration.

“We will soon urge the investors to make a study on those accumulated effects on the environment and ask them to submit the study to local authorities and environment management agencies,” Hoi added.

SGT

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